Turkey detains 91, including politicians, journalists, over Syria comments

Turkish anti riot police officers block People' Democracy Party's (HDP) headquarter as HDP members call a protest against Turkey's "Olive Branch" operation in Syria on January 21, 2018 in Diyarbakir. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2018
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Turkey detains 91, including politicians, journalists, over Syria comments

ISTANBUL: Turkey arrested dozens of people overnight for “spreading terrorist propaganda” about its Syrian incursion, state media said on Tuesday, raising to nearly 100 the number of such detainees, including politicians, journalists and activists.
The latest police raids focused on the western province of Izmir, but people have been detained across Turkey over their social media posts since Operation Olive Branch began in Syria’s Afrin region at the weekend, state-run Anadolu agency said.
The incursion targets the US-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG, viewed by Ankara as a terrorist group and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought an insurgency in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast since 1984.
Among those detained were the provincial heads in the cities of Izmir and Aydin of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the second biggest opposition party in parliament. Ankara accuses the HDP of being linked to the PKK, a charge it denies.
HDP spokesman Ayhan Bilgen named four journalists among those arrested in the investigation into social media postings. He said the probe was targeting “those who side with peace.”
“Journalists are having their doors rammed down without anyone knocking and they are being detained as if there were an army or ammunition inside,” he told a news conference.
“This shows how people are afraid of keyboards, pens, words and writing,” he said.
“BLACK PROPAGANDA“
Anadolu said 91 people had been detained so far in raids against “black propaganda” across 13 provinces, with 17 detained in southeast Turkey’s Diyarbakir province. Three of the detainees have been remanded in custody pending trial, it added.
Six of the 23 suspects arrested in Izmir were accused of spreading propaganda on the streets, which amounted to “harassing people,” the agency said, adding that they were planning to hold a protest in a park.
Among the detainees was Leyla Guven, co-leader of the pro-Kurdish NGO Democratic Society Congress, said HDP lawmaker Bedia Ozgokce Ertan, adding that other HDP officials and senior members of the IHD human rights association were also held.
Ankara has enforced a crackdown since a failed coup in 2016 that critics say has unjustly targeted pro-Kurdish politicians. Some HDP lawmakers have been jailed on terrorism charges, which they deny.
In total, more than 50,000 people have been jailed and face trial since the attempted putsch and 150,000 have been sacked or suspended from their jobs. The government says the moves were necessary given the security threats Turkey faces.
On Monday, authorities in the capital Ankara banned all rallies, protests, meetings and concerts in the city for as long as the Afrin operation in Syria continues.


German firms end Iran projects amid new US sanctions

Updated 7 min 20 sec ago
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German firms end Iran projects amid new US sanctions

  • New US sanctions against Iran took effect last week and several European companies have suspended plans to invest in Iran in light of the US sanctions

BERLIN: German rail operator Deutsche Bahn and Deutsche Telekom are ending projects in Iran after Washington imposed new sanctions against Tehran and said firms doing business with Iran would be barred from doing business with the United States.
New US sanctions against Iran took effect last week and several European companies have suspended plans to invest in Iran in light of the US sanctions, including oil major Total as well as carmakers PSA, Renault and Daimler.
State-owned Deutsche Bahn is involved in two projects in Iran via its subsidiary DB Engineering&Consulting, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.
“Both projects will be ended in August and September 2018 respectively,” she said. “Due to the altered banking practice we have sought to bring the contract to an amicable and timely conclusion.”
Deutsche Bahn signed a memorandum of understanding with the Iranian rail operator Bonyad Eastern Railways (BonRail) in May 2017 for the first project, which aimed to identify and address potential in rolling stock and organization, she said.
The second project, which started around 1-1/2 years ago, was a consulting contract for Iranian state railway RAI that included restructuring the company, the spokeswoman added.
Separately, Detecon, a subsidiary of T-Systems — Deutsche Telekom’s IT services arm — has terminated its business in Iran, a spokesman said. Detecon offers consulting services to companies in the telecommunications industry.
“Until the decision to stop operations was made, sales in Iran in 2018 amounted to around €300,000,” he said.
“Given the sensitivity in relations with Iran worldwide, Detecon ended its business in Iran with immediate effect in mid-May 2018.”
The ending of Telekom’s involvement in Iran followed soon after the announcement that its US unit, T-Mobile, would buy Sprint Corp. in a $26 billion deal that remains subject to the approval of US regulators.